Category Archives: Pies and Pastries

Pumpkin Muffins (Revisited)

Frosted Pumpkin Muffin

Frosted Pumpkin Muffin

I decided to revisit my pumpkin muffin recipe-it’s not that I’ve run out of things to make with pumpkin, (gnocchi, fettucini, mousse, and many others are still on my list to try) but I had to make treats for my students today, and muffins are usually well received. I love my other pumpkin spice muffin recipe because it’s bold and has great flavor, but it yields a denser heartier muffin. Today I wanted a muffin that bordered on being a cupcake. I made a couple of adjustments (borrowing a bit from my pumpkin cake recipe) to achieve a lighter airier pumpkin muffin. (Despite achieving “lighter” muffins, I still felt it prudent to work a 5K “muffin run” into my day)!  Because pumpkin has a fairly high water content, I increased the amount of baking powder in the recipe, sifted the flour, and used baking (also called “superfine”) sugar. I did still use a fair amount of spice, but it was really the pumpkin flavor that shined through. And, of course, because these muffins were to be devoured by teenagers, I frosted them (I really frosted them!). It would be interesting to do a side-by-side taste test, but for now, I’m just happy that this batch was well received. (Makes 12-16).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3  2/3 Cups Flour (sifted)
  • 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger (plus more for frosting – see below)
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/3 Cups Baker’s (superfine) Sugar (substitute regular if necessary)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1  15-oz. Can Pumpkin Puree

For the Frosting:

  • 4 Oz. Cream Cheese (at room temperature)
  • 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Lb. (approx.) Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl – set aside.sift flour

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and sugar.cream together butter and sugar Cream together butter and sugar (if using stand mixer, use paddle attachment) until well combined.  Add eggs one at a timeAdd the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree and beat again.Mix in pumpkin Add the flour mixture in 3 parts and mix until thoroughly combined.

Line a muffin tin(s) with paper liners. Fill each muffin cup at least 3/4 full (I filled nearly to the top). Ready for ovenPlace on center rack of preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin – it should come out clean). out of the ovenRemove muffins from tin and set on a cooling rack. In the meantime, prepare the frosting.

Combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla and ground ginger in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved (I prefer a soft, creamy frosting, but if you want to pipe the frosting on, you’ll want to use more sugar).Frosting

Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled muffins (I don’t mind frosting when the muffins are still a little warm, but the frosting can be a bit drippy).

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Popovers with Maple Butter

Pumpkin Popovers

Pumpkin Popovers

Yes, the pumpkin obsession continues! Apparently, I am not alone in my reverie for all things pumpkin; I’ve received quite a bit of feedback from friends and readers who have expressed their love of pumpkin. I wonder if it’s the taste of the pumpkin alone, or possibly something more than that that makes me swoon for pumpkin anything. My childhood (and adult)  Halloween memories are quite magical, so maybe that’s an underlying factor. And there’s something about fall and the harvest season that brings out a thankfulness which maybe contributes to my reverie.

Well, enough of that – on to the popovers. As I mentioned in my regular popover post, these airy gems are a favorite in my family. They’re really quite easy to make and they are a fast alternative to traditional dinner rolls which require “rising time.” I altered my regular popover recipe to include pumpkin puree, traditional pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) and added just a touch of sugar for fun. These popovers are not really sweet – you could increase the sugar or add maple syrup or agave nectar if you’re looking for more sweetness, but I like them just the way they are. The addition of the pumpkin puree does change the texture of the batter, and the finished product is a little less light, but not doughy and still light enough to legitimately be a popover.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ Cup plus 2 TBS Milk (not skim)
  • 2 TBS Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 TBS Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 TBS. Sugar
  • Butter or Butter Spray to grease tins

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add milk, pumpkin, eggs and melted butter to the blender and blend until well combined and smooth. Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and sugar and blend again until smooth and bubblyMix in blender 1. Place a muffin tin or popover pan in the preheated oven for 2-3 minutes until hot. Remove the tin from the oven and thoroughly grease each mold with butter or nonstick spray. Grease tinTurn the blender back on for 10 seconds to re-mix the batter. Pour batter into the tin filling each section 3/4 full. Place the tin inthe oven and bake for 15 minutes – DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING BAKING PROCESS. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and remove popovers from tin when just cool enough to handle (I like to serve them hot, and I have very heat tolerant fingertips, so I do this almost immediately). Out of over)Serve warm. (You may want to poke a small hole in each popover or warn guests that steam will escape when broken open).individual popover

MAPLE BUTTER:

Combine 1/2 cup of softened butter and 1/4 cup of maple syrup (use a stand or handheld electric mixer for best results).Maple butter

popover with butter

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Fresh Peach Cobbler a la mode.

Fresh Peach Cobbler a la mode.

On Saturday I returned from a 16 day trip to China. I had high hopes of catching up on my blog and adding a lot of posts while I was traveling, but I discovered that my blog is blocked in China- not for any reason specific to my blog, but, apparently, all WordPress blogs (and many other blogs where people can freely express opinions) are blocked. My neighbors were initially surprised that I wanted to host our regular Sunday dinner so soon after my return, but then they thought about it and came to the realization that cooking was probably near the top of my list of things that I missed while away from home for so long – they were right. We enjoyed a great meal of grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, pasta with basil and lemon cream sauce, grilled bread, and fresh peach cobbler with a la mode. To me, grilling is like a true celebration of summer, however it’s not popular (at all!) in China, so it was what I craved upon my return. I believe I’ve posted most of the recipes for everything except the cobbler. Watermelon, berries,  and peaches are the fruits that come to mind when I think of summer. Since I ate an abundance of watermelon in China, that was off my list; so I settled on a dessert with peaches. The obvious choice… cobbler. I toyed with the idea of a pie, but cobblers, crisps, and buckles are just so easy, and seem so much more casual and homey. This cobbler was no exception. We enjoyed it still warm from the oven, but it’s great at room temperature, or reheated in the microwave. As with many desserts, it’s even better topped with ice cream or whipped cream. You could make a ginger flavored whipped cream or homemade ice cream which would be delightful, but I settled on store bought vanilla (the kind with the vanilla bean flecks).  You can adjust the spices a bit, I like a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, but cardamom is a popular pairing with peaches as well (I didn’t have any ground cardamom on hand, and didn’t feel like grinding any). Serves 8-10 (with leftovers).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8-10 Peaches, peeled and sliced (1/4 inch)
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 TBS. Corn Starch
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 14 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 2 Cups Flour (I use 1 Cup of cake flour and 1 cup all-purpose, but can use just all-purpose)
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Cold Unsalted Butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 3/4 Cup Buttermilk or Heavy Cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. In a medium bowl, combine sliced peaches, lemon juice, spices, corn starch and all but a few tablespoons of the sugar (reserve for sprinkling on topping). Gently mix until all ingredients are incorporated and allow mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the topping. peaches coatedIn a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk together until well mixed. Add butter cubeswork butter into dry ingredient mixture and, using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the buttermilk or cream and use a fork to combine to make a dough – but do not overmix. The dough should be the consistency of a biscuit dough; it should hold together and be able to clump, without being too wet. If necessary, add a little more buttermilk or cream. Pour the peaches into a casserole dish or 9×13 baking dish.layer peaches in pan Top the peaches with the dough (drop clumps over the top until covered) and sprinkle with remaining sugar. peach cobbler ready for ovenBake at 350 Degrees for 50-60 minutes until crust is browned and filling is bubbly.peach cobbler out of oven

Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Easter Dinner

Easter Table 3I think I might love Easter dinner almost as much as I love Thanksgiving dinner. Both really embrace and celebrate the season, and I love food that is seasonally fitting. Unlike Thanksgiving, where I it’s almost sacreligious to vary the side dishes too much (although recent years have brought new introductions), there are a lot of side dish options which are fitting for spring and bode well for Easter dinner. I typically serve lamb as the main dish, simply because I don’t really love ham and I do love lamb. If I were feeding a big crowd, I would certainly do both. Sorrel soup is usually a tradition for us (my mother always made it as well), but spring has been so slow in arriving this year, that I don’t have enough sorrel in the garden this year and it’s hard to find any place that sells sorrel. As for vegetable side dishes – the list is almost endless…think green and fresh. This year I plan to serve sauteed snap peas with mint, but I will also serve a light arugula salad. Asparagus is probably the most traditional spring vegetable, and I’ve served that many times in the past. Starchy side dishes are also nearly limitless. Buttered noodles with fresh chopped herbs is simple but appropriate, boiled new potatoes with butter and herbs would be equally great, as would simple herbed white or wild rice. I have made risotto (with mushrooms and asparagus) in the past, however, this year I  will be serving my grandmother’s scalloped potatoes (made with canned evaporated milk). My Dad loved these potatoes and my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was always thrilled to make them. I also usually make a quiche for any vegetarian guests – asparagus and mushroom or leek is always a hit. Bread and rolls are another important component of the meal. Last year I made cheddar scallion scones and they were a huge hit, so I’ll make them again this year, but I’m also going to make popovers because they are my families new favorite. Ah, and for dessert: lemon cakeLemon Buttermilk Cake with Lavender Frosting is the standard and I will serve that again this year since it is Auntie Sarah’s favorite and also because I’ll be making one for my friend Sara, but I think I’m also going to make a rhubarb pie or tart, since rhubarb is another spring icon. Last year I served a coconut cake (now “award winning” since it won our local dessert contest on the Fourth of July).

I love decorating for Easter, and I love coloring Easter eggs. Aracauna egg for EasterBlog thru April 4 003Two years ago I decorated the table with fresh Araucana eggs (they are often called the natural Easter eggs because they are beautiful shades of blue, green, beige and even an almost pink). Last year I died Quail Eggs and I loved the way those turned out.

Mini Easter Eggs (Dyed Quail Eggs)

Mini Easter Eggs (Dyed Quail Eggs)

Click here to see instructions for Dyed Quail Eggs

Click here to see Previous Easter Dinner Menu and Recipes

 

Grilled Leg of Lamb (Recipe by Alton Brown)

I take zero credit for this recipe – normally I can’t resist adding my own personal touches to a recipe to make it my own, but in this case, I wouldn’t change a thing. Click on the link above to go to the original recipe and read some of the nearly 100 five star reviews. Many people comment that, like me, they were skeptical of the mustard, but you just can’t argue with the results. Alton’s recipe calls for a charcoal grill, but you can make this on a gas grill, just turn off the center burner when cooking. It’s important to buy good quality lamb meat; if you don’t find what you’re looking for, ask your butcher. As I’ve mentioned before, we happen to have a farm we buy from, so even though our lamb is frozen, the flavor is always outstanding. This recipe is too good to only serve once a year – it would be great to serve at any occasion.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Boneless Sirloin Leg of Lamb

For the Paste:

  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 8 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1 TBS. Brown Sugar
  • 1 TBS. Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 5 TBS. Strong Mustard, such as Dijon
  • 2 TBS. Canola Oil
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary

INSTRUCTIONS:

Roughly chop the garlic cloves in the food processor. Add the mint and repeat. Add the brown sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and oil and blend to a paste. Spread the paste evenly on the meat side of the roast. Roll the leg into a roast shape and tie with cotton butcher’s twine. Leg of Lamb MarinadeFire 2 quarts (1 chimney’s worth) of charcoal (natural chunk is best). When charcoal is lightly covered with gray ash, split the coals into 2 piles and move them to the far sides of the cooker. Close the lid and allow the grate to heat. Then, place the lamb, skin side up, on the middle of the hot grate. Add the rosemary sprigs to the charcoal briquettes and close the lid and grill. After 20 minutes, flip the roast and rotate it 180 degrees. Insert the probe thermometer into the roast and continue to grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the roast at 135 degrees. Remove the butcher’s twine from the roast. Cover with foil and rest it for 15 minutes before serving.

 Alternative: Lamb Chop (or Leg of Lamb) Marinade

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12-16 Small Lamb Chops (French Cut) – or 1 Boneless Leg of Lamb
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil
  • 4 TBS. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 1/2 juicy lemon)
  • 8 Cloves Garlic – chopped
  • 4 TBS. Fresh Rosemary – chopped
  • 4 TBS. Fresh Thyme- chopped
  • 4 TBS. Fresh Oregano – chopped
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pour olive oil into a glass baking dish. Add garlic, herbs, and lemon juice and mix until thoroughly combined. Add lamb chops (or leg of lamb) to pan and season with salt and pepper, turn over and season other side of meat. Spread marinade (including chopped garlic and herbs) over meat. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour (2 hours is better). Lamb chops in marinate

Easter Table 5

 

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

 

Lemon Cake with Whipped Cream and Edible Spring Flowers

Lemon Cake with Whipped Cream and Edible Spring Flowers

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexian Wedding cookies croppedMy mother was not much of a baker (maybe that’s where I learned to proclaim that I am not a baker), but she did make one type of cookie – the Mexican Wedding cookie, and it’s been one of my favorite holiday cookies ever since. This cookie is known by many names and versions exist in many different cultures (Butter Pecan Cookies, Russian Teacakes, Italian Butter Nut Cookies, Southern Pecan Butterball, Snowdrop Cookies, Snowball Cookies, Swedish Teacakes, Viennese Sugar Balls). If they were descriptively named, they would probably be called pecan butter cookies – those are the two key ingredients. They are not a particularly sweet cookie, but they certainly are indulgent. This year my former boyfriend’s mother hired me to bake her 8 dozen of these cookies to take to a cookie exchange (whoever came up with the idea of the cookie exchange is a genius – it’s easy to make 8 dozen of the same cookie, but really challenging to make 8 dozen different cookies). I use pecans in my cookies, but some recipes call for walnuts or almonds, or even a combination of nuts. Some recipes have you shape the cookies into a crescent shape (I think this is the Italian version), but I just shape them like balls – flattened a bit on the underside. I am generous with the powdered sugar coating, I usually coat the cookies while they’re hot so the sugar gets absorbed, but I re-dust them after they’ve cooled. I do think of these cookies as a holiday cookie – something about the powdered sugar makes them look festive and snow covered, but they are a treat anytime of year. This recipe is super easy to follow and the cookies are pretty much foolproof.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for coating and dusting baked cookies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces
INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until it is smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Continue with mixer at  low speed, and gradually add the flour. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the pecans by hand. Mexican wedding cookie doughRoll about  1 heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball and place onto prepared cookie sheets. (If dough is sticking to your hands, coat your hands in powdered sugar). Set cookies about 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 40 minutes – bottoms will NOT be browned. Mexian Wedding cookies in ovenIn the meantime, add powdered sugar to a small bowl. Immediately after removing from oven, roll each cookie in additional confectioners’ sugar. roll cookies in powdered sugarCool on wire racks. If desired, dust with additional powdered sugar after cookies have cooled. Mexian Wedding cookies

Rustic Apple Cranberry Tart

Rustic Apple Cranberry Tart

Rustic Apple Cranberry Tart

I, like most of us, continue to try to find ways to use up the Thanksgiving leftovers. While I never really grow tired of apple pie, I was looking for something just a little different since I made four different pies for Thanksgiving. I also wanted to use up my leftover cranberries. What a delightful surprise this tart was. I actually made two of them and we devoured them at a recent Sunday evening dinner with neighbors. I used Northern Spy apples which is a favorite pie apple here in Michigan – I have fond memories of my grandmother’s apple pies made with them. You can certainly use any apple that you like for pie, but keep in mind that the cranberries add tartness, so if you use a tart apple like a Granny Smith, you’ll want to increase the sugar a bit. Another of my favorite baking apples is the Macintosh because of it’s sweet/tart flavor, but they are not as firm and I think a firmer apple works better in the tart. I served the tart with whipped cream because, you guessed it, I had it leftover, but vanilla ice cream would be an even better accompaniment. As is also typical for me, I used Pillsbury pie crust – I know I’ve sung its praises before, but I can’t emphasize enough how much more likely I am to make a pie, tart, or quiche if I don’t have to mess (literally) with the crust.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 Cup (firmly packed) Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar (plus additional for sprinkling on crust)
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 3-4 Large, Firm Baking Apples, such as Northern Spy – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
  • 1 TBS. Unsalted Butter
  • 1-2 TBS. Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp.  Milk or Cream
  • 1 Pie Crust (store bought or see recipe below)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Add sliced apples to a large bowl and coat with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Add sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cranberries.apple cranberry tart ingredients Toss ingredients until well combined and the apples and cranberries are well coated with the dry ingredients. Lay the pie crust out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pile the apple cranberry filling in the center of the crust leaving about a 2 inch rim around the edge. Dot the filling with pieces of butter. apple cranberry tart ready to cookFold the edges of the crust over the filling – working your way around the whole tart. Brush the crust with milk or cream and sprinkle generously with sugar. apple cranberry tart into ovenBake at 425 Degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350 Degrees. Bake for another 50-60 minutes until the crust is golden brown, the apples and berries are softened. apple cranberry tart cookedIf crust starts getting too brown during the cooking process, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a serving plate or, if not serving immediately, a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.

For Homemade Pie Crust:

Pate Brise (Pie Crust):

  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Sticks ( 1 Cup) Unsalted Butter – well chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Ice Water

The key to a good flaky crust is to use very cold ingredients and don’t overwork the dough.

Add flour, salt and sugar to a food processor and mix until combined. Add butter and pulse for 7-10 seconds until flour mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add water in a steady stream through processor tube, pulsing while adding. Continue pulsing and adding water just until dough holds together. Dough should not be wet or mushy, but must hold together enough to roll out – if it doesn’t hold together to form a ball, slowly add a little more water until it does. Divide dough into two equal parts and form into balls, slightly flatten balls (they will chill faster and be easier to roll out). Cover in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour. Remove 1 dough disc from refrigerator and place on a floured work surface. Flour a rolling pin, and roll dough out to desired thickness or size necessary to fit in pie plate. Repeat process for top crust after filling bottom crust.

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scone

Pumpkin Scone

I simply can’t get enough pumpkin this time of year! I hope it’s not too annoying, but tis the season! Quite frankly, I prefer that the Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving season last longer than the Winter/Holiday/Christmas season, but as evidenced by all of the stores that are already decked out with Christmas accoutrements, nobody bothered to ask for my humble opinion. Today I’m going to attempt pumpkin pie ice cream, but my post reflects a treat I made last week – pumpkin scones. Although I’ve never had the Starbucks pumpkin scones (they always look good), I’ve been told these are similar. I think maybe it’s just because I used two kinds of glaze similar to the look of the Starbucks scones. At any rate, the scones were well received, and, as with all of my scone recipes, they’re super easy. You could go the really easy route and only use one glaze, or skip the glazes altogether – but I say: “splurge – fall comes but once a year!”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (cold – cut into small pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling)
  • 1 tsp. molasses (use good quality -unsulphured)
  • 3 TBS. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla

For the Glazes:

  • 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2-4 TBS. Heavy Cream
  • 1 TBS. Pumpkin
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add butter to dry mixture and, using your hands or a pastry cutter, combine until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Thru March 20 006

In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, molasses, heavy cream, egg, and vanilla. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine to form a dough. Flour a work surface, and put dough out onto surface – dusting with enough flour so that it is not sticky but workable; knead dough 2-3 times but do not overwork. Form dough into two balls. Put dough on a work surface and pat into 3/4 inch round discs. Cut dough into 8 equal sized triangles (pie shaped).pumpkin scone dough Place cut scones on greased or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on size of scones). Allow to cool completely and drizzle with icing (if using). Icing the scones: Completely cover each scone in plain icing. Pumpkin scones icing 1For the Pumpkin Icing, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the glazed scones in a diagonal pattern (or whatever random pattern you choose).

For the Plain Icing: Combine 1 Cup powdered sugar and 1 TBS. cream- slowly add more cream until desired consistency is achieved.

For the Pumpkin Drizzle Icing:

Combine powdered sugar, spices, and pumpkin puree and add 1 TBS cream – slowly add more cream until desired consistency is achieved.pumpkin scones iced 2

Pumpkin Scones Ready for Delivery

Pumpkin Scones Ready for Delivery

Ginger Pear Tart

Ginger pear tart

Rustic Ginger Pear Tart

This is a simple rustic tart. In fact, it’s really simple if you do as I do and use a pre-made pie crust. I’ve made many varieties of this tart (apple, pear, berry), but there were beautiful pears at the market the other day and I couldn’t resist.PearsI bought this amazing ginger syrup that I’ve used on all sorts of goodies, but it was fantastic with the pears. I used it to glaze the crust, but if you don’t have ginger syrup, you can do a honey glaze and add some ground ginger or you could steep fresh ginger and combine that with honey. This would be great served with vanilla ginger ice cream or a simple ginger whipped cream. Neither of those were good options for me because I was serving the tart at school, but none of my kids complained.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-5 Medium Pears (Bosc, Anjou, Bartlett, or whatever is in season)
  • 1 Prepared Pie Crust (Pillsbury makes a great one)
  • 2 TBS. Sugar
  • 4 TBS. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 2 TBS. Cornstarch
  • 1 TBS. Lemon Juice

For the Glaze:

About 2 TBS. Ginger Syrup. Alternative: Combine 1 TBS. Honey with 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger and 1/4 tsp. Boiling Water.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Peel and core the pears and slice into 1.4 inch pieces. In a glass, or non-reactive bowl, combine lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cornstarch. Mix until all ingredients are well combined; add pears and mix gently until pears are well coated.Sliced Pears In the meantime, lay out the pie crust and sprinkle the sugar over the crust. Sugared CrustTransfer the crust to a parchment lined (for easy clean-up) baking sheet. Mound the pears in the center of the crust and spread out leaving a 2 inch border. Pears on crustWorking in sections, fold the bordering crust up over the pears (the pears will not all be covered). Fold-up sidesBake at 475 Degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 Degrees. Bake for another 30-40 minutes until pears are tender and crust is golden brown. While the tart is still hot, glaze the crust and the exposed pears with ginger syrup or honey glaze. Allow to cool slightly and serve (or can be served later at room temperature).

Maple Glazed Bacon Muffins

Maple Glazed Bacon Muffin

Maple Glazed Bacon Muffin

I first made these muffins at the cottage over the summer. The little beach shop Nani’s on the corner was renowned for their gourmet hot dogs and bacon muffins. I concur that both are worthy of the highest praise. Unfortunately, since I’m only at the cottage for  2 weeks, I had to find a way to reinvent the muffins, or my enjoyment would be limited. Since my loaded blueberry muffins are always well liked, I decided to adapt that recipe. The glaze was a result of reading a variety of glaze and frosting recipes and merging several of the flavors that most appealed to me. While they’re not going to win any contests for healthiness, the muffins are quite tasty, so I entered them in a bacon recipe contest. While the contest does come with a cash prize, more importantly, the winner is awarded a year’s supply of bacon! My son was pretty excited at that prospect.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Slices Thick Sliced Bacon
  •   6 TBS. Unsalted Butter – softened
  • 2 TBS. Bacon Drippings (cooled)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 3 TBS. Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Paper Cupcake Liners

For the Maple Glaze:

1 Slice Thick Sliced Bacon – cooked and crumbled for garnish
2 TBS. Cream Cheese- softened
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3 TBS. Pure Maple Syrup

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook bacon (either in the oven at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or in a large skillet or on a griddle on the stovetop) until crispy. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate and reserve bacon drippings. When bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add butter, sugars and eggs to a large mixing bowl and cream together.
Sift all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Add vanilla to milk. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately (in about 2- 3 batches) to the creamed butter mixture. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and gently fold bacon into the batter. Mix-in Bacon
Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners Spoon batter into tray filling each compartment 2/3 full.Fill muffin trays

Place muffin tray in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted comes clean). Cooked muffins
While the muffins bake, prepare the maple glaze. Combine all glaze ingredients, except bacon, in a small-medium sized mixing bowl and, using a hand mixer, combine until all ingredients are incorporated.
Allow muffins to sit for 3-5 minutes before removing from the tray. Spread maple glaze over muffins and sprinkle each glazed muffin with a bit of crumbled bacon.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Ginger Cream Cheese Glaze

Pumpkin Spice MuffinAs much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s fall. Nothing celebrates fall quite like pumpkin. I love the traditional spices that accompany pumpkin, but my hands-down favorite is ginger. I also love cream cheese frosting, so I decided to top my pumpkin muffins with a bit of ginger cream cheese frosting. While muffins aren’t traditionally frosted, I was making these muffins for my students, and they would never complain about the addition of frosting. Certainly you can omit the frosting for a more traditional breakfast muffin, but I encourage you to at least make the muffins once with frosting. I used baking cups with my muffins, but it’s not necessary. Makes 10-12 muffins (photos show a triple batch).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar + 2 TBS. for topping
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1.5 tsp. Cinnamon + 1 tsp. for topping
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg + 1/4 tsp. for topping
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2  Can (16Oz.) Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 tsp. Vanilla
  • 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter – cut into small pieces
  • Crystallized Ginger – optional, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Sift together all dry ingredients. Sift dry ingredientsAdd butter and mix in, until completely incorporated, using a pastry cutter or two forks. Work in butterIn a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla – mix. combine pumpkin pureeAdd pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredient mixture and gently mix. Add wet mixtureGrease muffin tin or line with baking cups. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full.Fill muffin trays Combine 2 TBS. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and sprinkle over the top of muffin batter. Bake 20-25 minutes (test for doneness by inserting a toothpick). Allow to cool 10-15 minutes (cool enough to handle) and then remove muffins from tins. Allow muffins to cool completely before frosting. Frost and garnish with crystallized ginger.

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 Oz. Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter – softened
  • About 1/2 Lb. Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 TBS. Ginger Syrup*

Using an electric hand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and ginger syrup and then add confectioners sugar until desired consistency is reached.

* Can substitute Ground Ginger to taste.

Finished muffin